U.S. Rep. Henry Brown introduced legislation Wednesday prohibiting the use of government funds to transport any terror detainees to the Navy brig in Hanahan from their current holding site at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President-elect Barack Obama is looking at ways to shut down the operation at Guantanamo Bay and bring prosecutions to the U.S. If that happens, one potential holding site is the Charleston Naval Consolidated Brig. About 255 detainees are held at Guantanamo.
Brown's legislation has an uphill climb at becoming a reality, but Brown's camp says they want to get the debate going on alternatives.
Two safer locations, Brown suggested, are the federal "supermax" prison in the high desert of Colorado or the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Both are "better equipped to securely and separately hold hundreds of individuals with ties to terrorists, from civilians," he said.
Brown, a Republican, called any decision to consider the Charleston area "a horrible mistake."
"While it is located on a military base, the brig is also less than a mile away from a highly populated civilian area," Brown said. "Bringing these extremely dangerous war criminals, deemed too high a threat to be sent home, would add an unnecessary terrorist threat to our community."
Brown cited the local population centers, the Port of Charleston, Interstate 526 and the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command as some of the risks.
Some detainees at Guantanamo have been cleared for release but have not been sent back to their home countries because they could face torture or other forms of abuse there.